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Food Smoking: A Brief Description of Methods and Implements

Food smoking is one of the most ancient methods of preserving food. It was common to smoke fish due to the quick rate of decay that the meat goes through. It's very common with indigenous tribes along the U.S. coast. Initially used to kill the harmful microbes that taint meat and other food, the use of smoke has expanded to also create unique flavor varieties depending on fuel and smoke application.

There are basically two camps to using smoke: hot smoking and cold smoking methods. Hot smoke cooking uses the heat and smoke together to cook and flavor the food at the same time. Hot smoking is usually around 170 degrees Fahrenheit and combines the heat from water steam that is in the wood with the general radiated heat from the incinerated material. The wood is often dampened a little to produce the copious amount of smoke that is needed. Additional cooking usually is needed to kill any remaining bacteria.

Cold smoking on the other hand, is smoking meat under a low heat. The smoke, in essence, will draw out the moisture in the meat, which is a facilitator to spoilage. The smoke needs to be separated from the heat source to cool, so when the smoke cools it can be directed onto the food so the drying can occur. Some common cold smoked meat is beef jerky and smoked ham. However, after the smoking of the meat is done there needs to be further curing such as brine injection or a cure mix, usually containing salts.

Wood Smokers for the Common Cooker

Beef jerky you buy at your local grocery store is usually from a huge warehouse of hanging meat set under a controlled climate system. However, there are some small smokers the average person can buy on the market to duplicate it. Both hot and cold smoking can be done by combination smokers for instance. For cold smoking they have an external smoke source, often referred to as a fire box that can control the smoke temperature. If one were to invest in a domestic smoke house system, you can usually get it small enough to be easily transported, like a small beverage fridge.

As mentioned before, the flavor can be altered by the type of wood that is used. Hickory wood and Apple wood are some wood flavors that can be used. It can vary by region too; Hickory is commonly used on the U.S. east coast, Alder is more popular in the Northwest.


African Food Offers An Adventure For The Palette

NYC offers a festival of food for flavors that come for from all around the globe. With influences from every culture the diverse offering s of the "Big Apple" can make any meal a feast for the senses. While there is a tremendous amount of Italian-American cooking and Asian cuisine in NYC there is a representation of food and culture from almost every country on earth. As an example there is a restaurant that caters to the authentic foods found throughout each region of Africa. Although African pastries are not commonly known to most Americans they are a delicacy that rival anything produced in the typical kitchen of an American home.

For truly authentic African food NYC residents can choose from a selection of meat dishes that can be found on the "Dark Continent." Although the animals that are eaten in Africa differ from what can be found in the US the spices and seasonings of the beef and poultry deliver the traditional flavors and textures that are created in African cooking.

Although he has been gone for many years now, my father enjoyed traveling throughout Africa as he fulfilled assignments with his work when I was a teenager. Journeying to each region of the continent my home has some of the artifacts that were collected and given as gifts to my father as he went from the south to the east, west and north countries of Africa with his work.

Developing a great love of the people and of their heritage my dad enjoyed spending time in Africa and sharing meals with the people that he encountered on his travels. He and my mother have eaten bison, antelope and water buffalo and even warthog while they were in Africa but my father's sweet tooth was always leaning him toward the desserts that are offered by his hosts.

With the same seasoned dishes that can be found in the North, South East and West African countries there is something for every palette available from the restaurant that provides African food catering to NYC residents. Blending different dishes from each part of the continent or sticking to one particular country's fare the African food NYC enjoys is authentically prepared and served to guests that are enjoying a rare treat.

With all of the cultural diversity that is found in NYC it is refreshing to be able to find the flavors of the world that can take a person on a culinary tour of some of the more interesting and unusual places on earth. For anyone that has an adventurous appetite for truly delicious foods that offer meats and seasonings as well as fruits and vegetable dishes along with desserts there is a real treat waiting to be sampled in the African food restaurants that deliver a remarkable dining experience.


Safer Cooking with Stainless Cookware Sets

A lot of people may not know this, but there are actually some types of cookware sets that are not safe, and even dangerous to use for cooking. Just last year, studies have come out that cooking wares covered with Teflon and other non-stick materials were highly associated with various medical conditions. This is the very reason why more and more people are now returning to the good old stainless sets for cooking.

Stainless cookware is actually made out of different kinds of metals - such as chromium, molybdenum and nickel. These are generally stable metals that will not release harmful substances, even when heated. So if you are planning to buy cookware today, here are a few of the best benefits that you can get out of stainless cookware.

Stainless steel, as mentioned before, is a very inert metal. The material is very versatile, durable and relatively easy to heat up, making it one of the best choices as a cookware material. There are actually various weights of stainless cookware sets but the surgical steel is considered to be of superior quality.

Stainless steel can also create a non-stick, scratch-resistant surface which are the very same features found in Teflon cookware. There are now a variety of good quality brands selling this kind of stainless cookware in the market, all for you to choose from.

Aside from that, the material is also known for its durability and efficiency in cooking. Stainless steel is very resistant to dents and scratches, even with everyday use. Stainless steel cookware can also produce equal heat distribution over the pan surface, making cooking easier, more effective and even shorter at times.

Stainless steel is a very versatile metal. This means that it can be subjected to wide variety of chemicals and physical conditions without compromising its integrity. It does not react with any kind of acid or base used in cooking, which allows you to cook all sorts of dishes without having to worry about anything else.

One other very good option is the copper cookware sets. Copper cookware give out the same even heat distribution and are also very quick to heat up. However, copper cookware can also leak out residual amounts of metal into the food, which is the reason why most of them are overlaid with tin or stainless steel. These stainless cookware sets are highly preferred by chefs and cooking experts for making sauces and sautes.

Stainless steel cookware is also very easy to clean and maintain. Stains can easily be removed by soap and water and are dishwasher friendly. However, the downside to this material is that can produce a metallic aftertaste once the food is placed inside the cookware for too long. To avoid this, you can simply take out your dish right after cooking and place it in a separate, covered container to keep it warm.

Given all these advantages, stainless steel pans and cookware are relatively better choices compared to all the other cookware material in the market. So the next time you go out shopping for cookware, make the healthy choice and start getting back those good old stainless cookware sets.


Why Should You Make Your Own BBQ Sauce At Home?

Do you have your own BBQ sauce? Maybe a family recipe that never fails when it's time to get out the grill? If not, you might want to consider making your own. There are many benefits to making your own signature sauce. It's easy, healthier than most store bought options & you can customize it to suit your, and your families' tastes. With this article you'll learn why having your own customized sauce is a good idea, plus get the recipe for a starter sauce & learn a secret to excellent flavor blending.

Store bought sauces - sugar overload!
Have you looked at the ingredient list of a store bought or name brand/mainstream BBQ sauce lately? Where you might expect tomato paste or roasted red peppers, you'll usually find high fructose corn syrup. Sometimes corn syrup is even the first ingredient...and these aren't necessarily the "sweet" style sauces. Hotter & savory sauces can also contain a surprising & unnecessary amount of sugars. If you check "honey BBQ" , you'll almost never find real honey. Whether they're replacing it with malt, HFCS, cane juice, etc, it's still sugar. Adding a batch of sugar to your meat isn't the answer for the best flavor.

Custom sauce - eliminate the preservatives, add more flavor
When you customize your own sauce in a small batch, there's no need for preservatives. When you're not forced to heat up anything (pasteurizing, canning, preserving or bottling) the foods you use will retain more nutrients. By making your own, you know exactly what's going into it. Use your favorite local honey for a real honey bar-b-q. Customize how hot it tastes, the thickness, the level of heat, and the level of sweet. So, not only will a homemade sauce taste better, it will be better for you as well.

How hot do you like it?
You can turn up the heat exactly as much as you want for each dish you make. Choose from red pepper flakes, cayenne powder, or your favorite chili peppers and hot sauces. Capsaicin, the chemical that makes peppers taste hot, is actually good for you. When you use real natural heat sources like chili peppers you get the benefits of capsaicin, like anti-inflammatory properties, hunger fighting ability (great if you'd like to lose weight). Making your own sauce is fast and easy too.

A secret to better flavor blending
Different tastes work together in harmony, so season your dishes and compliment the flavors of your food. A great way to help flavors mix together is to add chia gel to your sauce. Chia gel is the soluble fiber on the outside of the chia seed. The seed itself & the fiber have no flavor at all. However, the soluble fiber of the seeds grabs onto liquids and blends flavors together. If you add chia gel to your sauce, it's best to refrigerate for at least half an hour before serving or using, to give the chia time to do its work.

When you bring out your own special sauce and serve it, you'll impress your guests. They'll know it's been customized for this meat, this meal, and they'll know its fresh too. You can get started right away with this simple recipe for a starter sauce. This recipe provides a basic sauce, but it's meant for you to modify it by adding a little of your favorite ingredients. For instance, you could replace the molasses with honey, or add hot sauce instead of chili powder for a hotter sauce.

Basic BBQ Sauce Recipe
BBQ Sauce Ingredients
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons lime juice
¼ teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon molasses
1 tablespoon dry chia
¼ cumin
¼ chili powder

To make, simply mix all of the above ingredients well, in a measuring cup or small bowl. Stir well to ensure the chia is mixed throughout. Let the sauce rest for about half an hour before using. This will give the chia seeds time to do their work in blending the flavors together, for a smooth, tasty sauce. Next, taste a little bit of the sauce. If it needs any adjustments now is the time. Otherwise, you're ready to go with your favorite grilled items.

Where else is flavor blending important?
Once you start with your own sauce and see how easy and tasty the results are, you might want to try making more things at home. Salad dressings for sweet or savory salads, blended berry sauces for your ice cream, and even stir fry marinade, pasta, or your favorite soups. Chia seeds work really well in all of these applications. They add two types of fiber, complete protein, omega 3 oils and many different trace minerals. So, when you use chia seeds in your cooking, you not only help to improve the taste, but you also help improve the nutrition quality.


Can Spicing Up Your Food Help You Lose Weight?

Can spicing up your food with hot peppers really help you lose weight?
With capsaicin as your spice of choice, it just might! Capsaicin is the chemical found in peppers that makes them taste hot. The more capsaicin in a pepper, the hotter it is said to taste. This chemical is actually created by pepper plants to discourage mammals from eating them. Most mammals don't enjoy the spicy taste, but if you do, you're in luck. (and even if you don't like to turn up the heat, you can still benefit...just read on)

Capsaicin has been the focus of several recent studies in Taiwan and the Netherlands. It isn't surprising to find the pepper a focus of study in Taiwan, as it often shares China's bounty of different types of hot chili peppers, and tasty dishes that put them to great use. The Chung Hsing University doctors discovered that capsaicin can shrink fat cells by tampering with a protein inside them. When eaten, it may even inhibit fat cell formation. Their findings are much more helpful than the rumor that spicy food works by raising metabolism, as their results were backed up by independent studies. It should be noted that consuming enough capsaicin can raise metabolism by only about 4-8% for a while, which is not all that insignificant if you were trying to lose fat only in that way.

The Netherlands study focused not on the direct action of the spice on cells, but on the hunger-fighting effects of hot foods. Even when they introduced a placebo, the results were still the same: Eating capsaicin can reduce hunger and lead people to eat less food. For example, if you had a hot-spicy lunch, you will be much less likely to want a snack before dinner, and then will consume less food at dinner as well.

Fighting hunger and wrecking fat cells is a fantastic one-two punch...but what if you don't like spicy foods? If you think that adding too much heat covers up the flavor of the food, or if you just don't enjoy the taste of peppers, you're not alone. Also, not everyone wants to eat spicy foods all the time. Fortunately, the natural health industry has recognized the problem. You can find capsaicin in convenient pill form. When you take a simple capsule, you never taste the heat. (receptors for this chemical are found in the tongue, lips, and sometimes the back of the mouth) Even an amount as small as .9 gram (less than 1 gram!) can have an effect on appetite.

Is capsaicin right for you?
If you have an ulcer, you shouldn't use it, as it may aggravate the condition. You must kill off the ulcer causing bacteria first, and make sure you're free of ulcers before using it. However, while using capsaicin, it may actually help fight bad bacteria in the stomach, thereby reducing your chances of future ulcers. If you are using medication for high blood pressure, or planning to use it as part of a big change in diet, it's also best to consult your doctor first.

Do you want more appetite slashing power?
Try mixing chia seeds into your food. They work in an entirely different way to keep you feeling full longer. Chia seeds absorb nine times their weight in water (or other liquid) so they can easily take up more space, without adding more calories. They're also rich in two kinds of fiber, soluble, and insoluble. Fiber does not add calories, because it can't be digested by the body. Instead, it acts as a sweeper, keeping food moving easily through the digestive system. Fiber also can help you feel full by taking up space.

Unlike capsaicin, chia seeds have no flavor at all. Instead, they take on the taste of whatever you add them to. From spaghetti sauce to seasoned marinade, cereal, yogurt or even fruit juice, you can count on chia to taste just like whatever you mix it into. While helping with the fullness factor, it also adds a nutritious boost with antioxidants, calcium, b-vitamins and plenty of protein.


Choosing The Right Kitchen Spice Rack

Kitchen Spice racks come in many varieties and sizes. Not every spice rack for sale will benefit you as a cook. Before spending money on one, make sure you have considered all the options.

The most important question to ask yourself is where are you going to put your kitchen spice rack? If it is going to sit on your counter, then look for counter top spice rack models, or commonly referred to as a free standing spice rack. Many people with a lack of counter top space can choose between a wall mountable kitchen spice rack or a hanging spice rack. A wall mountable spice rack can be hung on a wall, in the pantry, or even on the back of a cabinet door to preserve space. If you cook regularly you will want your spice rack within easy reach so having it in an easy accessible area is a must. Hanging spice racks usually attach underneath the wall cabinets and hang down below, still leaving you area underneath it to store other items.

Another thing to think about when selecting a spice rack is what type of material you want your spice rack to be made from. Spice racks are made from many different materials such as wood, plastic, different types of metal, and even composite materials. Spice rack frames are very durable, so select your fame style based on looks rather than construction. Spice rack frames require very little maintenance to keep the clean and long lasting.

Lastly, you should think about how many spices you think you will want in your spice rack. Many spice racks come packaged with the spices. If you cook frequently and know exactly what spices you will need, it is best to get a spice rack without the spices. You can go to any grocery store and buy fresh spices to add to your spice rack. Going this route keeps you from having spices in your rack that you will never use. It also allows you to customize your rack specifically for your cooking style. If you decide to buy a spice rack with the spices included, arrange your spice rack to put the least used spices in the rear of the rack to make the heaviest used spices easy accessible.

Finding the right kitchen spice rack can take some time due to the different types available. Make sure to put in the time required to get a spice rack that is functional and pleasing to the eye for your kitchen.


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